Applying Kwanzaa Principles to Education: Day 1 – Unity


Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966.  It is a holiday celebrated from December 26 – Jan 1.  There is a focus principle each day of the holiday.  Although these principles are based on African values, I believe if we apply these principles in education we could improve our education system.  Today’s principle is umoja /unity – to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know there is a lack of unity in education.  There are arguments about which schools are the best schools, even arguments stating certain schools shouldn’t even exist.  Districts give recommendations and teachers ignore them.  Principals create rules and set expectations and only some of the staff follow them.  No one wonder so many schools are stuck and not improving.  

I think the worst people are the people who are in education or proclaim to be education advocates, but they go on social media and attack other people, attempt to disparage their character or down right name call.  Guess who is watching?  Our children, the very people our education system is supposed to serve, are watching this chaos unfold online and at public meetings.

How can we move forward?  How can we unite to improve education and do what’s best for kids?  Start your work of unity with the school in your own backyard whether or not you have children or if you have children, but they don’t attend that school.  Don’t talk to me about how you are an education advocate and you don’t know anything about your neighborhood school or have not even bothered to offer your support and time.

My sons attend their boundary school and the school’s letter grade dropped.  As an educator, I am the first to say a school’s letter grade is not the whole picture.  Even though I work in another school district and it is hard to volunteer and be involved, I try to show up when I can and attend meetings the school asks parents to attend.  I want to work with other parents and school leaders to make my sons’ school the best school for children in our neighborhood.

Many times in education, we forget the people who we are fighting have the same unifying principle in their hearts.  They want all children regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status to receive the best education possible.  Even if you don’t agree, be willing to listen and engage in a respectful conversation and try to find some common ground.  Our children are watching how we work together for them.  If we can’t work together for them, how do we expect them to grow up, work together and lead us into the future?



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